Urban and Regional Sociology
Scott Baum and Patrick Mullins
Scholarship within urban and regional sociology involves the observation and explanation of the spatial structuring of the contemporary world and the patterns of human behaviour and culture within cities, towns and regions. It focuses on the urbanisation process: the concentration of human life in cities and towns, and the clustering of these urban areas into a series of regions. Most scholarship has examined the largest urban areas, because this is where a country's population, wealth, productive capacity, political power, and other elements of social life, such as health care and educational services, are disproportionately concentrated. Australian urban and regional research, then, has disproportionately focused on Melbourne and Sydney, although the profound global changes that have occurred over the past three decades have provoked interest in new patterns of development. These include the rise of urban regions, such as SouthEast Queensland/Northern New South Wales; the emergence of new cities, like the Gold Coast; the transformation of industrial centres, like Newcastle; the emergence of global cities, like Sydney; and the rapid rise of the periphery, notably Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Five issues need first be addressed before discussing the nature of Australian urban and regional sociology. First, sociological work in the field generally cannot easily be separated from other social-science research, in general and for Australia specifically (Davidson and Fincher 1998; see also Troy 1996a). From its beginnings in Australia in the 1960s, sociological research in this field has largely been indistinguishable from that undertaken by geographers (for example, Badcock 1984; Stimson 1982), political economists (for example, Berry 1984; Stilwell 1980) and urban and regional planners (for example, McLoughlin 1992; Troy 1996b). Thus, the criteria that we have used to identify sociological work in this field are authors' training in sociology and/or their employment as sociologists.
Second, and paralleling what has happened in other countries, Australian urban and regional sociology has overwhelmingly been an urban sociology, with the bulk of published